Fish More Inclined to Crash Into Each Other Than Bees

Science Daily    Source: Lund University   May 28, 2014

Swimming fish do not appear to use their collision warning system in the same way as flying insects, according to new research from Lund University in Sweden that has compared how zebra fish and bumblebees avoid collisions. The fish surprised the researchers.

All animals need some form of warning system that prevents them colliding with objects in their surroundings. The warning system helps them to continually regulate their speed and judge their distance from objects. For flying and swimming creatures this is an extra challenge because they also have to deal with winds and currents that affect their speed and direction.

"Bumblebees use what is known as an optic flow to help them avoid crashing into surrounding objects," said Christine Scholtyssek, Postdoc at the Department of Biology at Lund University.

The optic flow can be described as the sensation that surrounding objects move as the bumblebee flies past. To the bumblebee, reality is reversed -- it is as though the bee remains still while the objects speed past. Humans can have a similar experience when travelling by train, for example, when the surroundings race past the window. The closer the bee comes to an object, the faster the object appears to move, i.e. the optic flow in the bee's field of vision grows stronger. If the optic flow suddenly becomes stronger in the right eye than the left, the bumblebee will turn left to reduce the risk of a collision.

"The bumblebee has to constantly balance the optic flow between its two eyes," said Christine Scholtyssek.

The researchers at Lund University used specially constructed tunnels containing...

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